A year ago at this time, Desmond Trufant was the Falcons' top-selected draft pick and conspicuously absent from the team's voluntary OTAs because he returned to Washington to finish his degree. If there was anything he really missed during that time, however, it was tough to tell based on his rookie performance.
Trufant earned plenty of accolades during the offseason, from a spot on ESPN.com's All-Rookie team to ProFootballFocus.com's Defensive Rookie of the Year, and there's an uphill climb ahead of him to surpass the achievements of his first year. This time around, however, he's with the Falcons full-time during OTAs and preparing to one-up his solid rookie campaign.
The Falcons were back on the practice fields Wednesday morning for the second day of organized team activities.
"I'm getting comfortable with the scheme and playing with confidence, just like I always do," Trufant said after last week's OTAs session open to the media. "I plan to do a lot of great things for this team, so I'm just preparing for that."
With that preparation comes pressure — the pressure to be just as productive, if not more, in Year 2. During 2013, Trufant lived up to his hype as potentially the top cornerback available during that April's NFL Draft. He played in all 16 games and recorded 70 tackles and two interceptions. His 19 passes defensed was good enough to rank in the top 15 in the league for that category.
Topping that is going to be a task for the second-year corner, but he's focused much more on team goals. His personal accolades and accomplishments, he said, don't mean nearly as much as reaching the milestones the team sets for themselves, and, with the intensity he's noticing while experiencing the early stages of the offseason for the first time, he likes the Falcons' chances.
"We've got goals. There's a standard we've got to live up to and we're hungry. We're just looking forward. We can't wait for that first game," Trufant said. "There's always pressure. That just comes with the game, but I believe you create your own pressure. I'm just working as hard as I can and playing for my teammates."